Good women are beautiful. Bad women aren’t. And men will do anything for a Guinness and a potato. Our writer loses herself in the blarney-filled world of the new culture secretary’s oeuvre

It’s hard not to wonder, when reading Nadine Dorries’ novels, whether the newly anointed culture secretary keeps a checklist of cliches about the Irish beside her as she writes. One character even says: “No one in their right mind ever had a bad word to say about a potato.” Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as a Dorries protagonist would say. And in fact does.

Another has “vivid, twinkling blue eyes, the kind that can only come from Irish roots”. A third “embodied everything everyone knows to be true of an Irishman. He was as bold as brass, full of the blarney and didn’t know the meaning of the word shy.” Men knock back the Guinness (28 mentions in The Four Streets, Dorries’ first book), while they dream of “green fields the colour of emeralds, or a raven-haired girl, with eyes that shone like diamonds”, and kick each other’s heads in. “It was the Irish way. Fists and boots first, words later.”

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